- A man in Houston, Texas, is facing multiple charges after police found a small arsenal of weapons and ammunition in his hotel room.
- Employees at the Hyatt Regency initially called police early Sunday morning because the man was drunk at the hotel bar and refused to leave. Police later found an AR-15 rifle, a shotgun, handgun, and ammunition in his top-floor room.
- Police identified the man as 49-year-old Russell Lawrence Ziemba. Investigators said they do not believe Ziemba intended to use the weapons.
Police in Texas arrested a man on charges of unlawfully carrying a weapon after they found an AR-15 rifle, a shotgun, handgun, and ammunition in his top-floor hotel room at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston.
Hotel employees initially called police early Sunday morning after Russell Lawrence Ziemba refused to leave a bar, the local news station KPRC reported. Responding police called for backup at 1:30 a.m. local time and found ammunition “lying around the man’s hotel room,” according to Houston Police Lt. Gordon Macintosh.
Law-enforcement officials said Ziemba told them he had planned to celebrate New Year’s Eve and had been “drinking for a few days,” KPRC said, citing Houston police. Chief Art Acevedo said Ziemba told investigators he brought the weapons to his room because he feared they might be stolen from a truck that he parked in a garage.
A gun show was underway at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on Sunday, but police have not said whether Ziemba had visited the show or acquired his weapons from there.
Investigators said they do not believe Ziemba intended to use the weapons found in his room. Acevedo said there were no specific threats to Houston ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations getting underway Sunday night. The Hyatt Regency, which was planning festivities of its own, said in a statement:
“The safety and security of our guests and colleagues is our top priority, and consistent with the hotel’s prepared security plans, heightened measures are in place on New Year’s Eve. We are fully cooperating with authorities on an investigation, and further questions should be directed to the Houston Police Department.”
The incident with Ziemba closely resembles the events surrounding the Las Vegas massacre in October, during which 64-year-old Stephen Paddock fired on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Las Vegas Strip. Fifty-eight people were killed and nearly 600 people were injured. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
Law-enforcement agencies in the US and around the world stepped up measures to protect revelers celebrating New Year’s Eve. The New York Police Department conducted specialized training to help officers stop potential suicide bombers, Reuters reported.
In Las Vegas, snipers and spotters, along with additional air support were on hand, with federal authorities stationed at mobile command posts there.